November was another busy month for the “Exchange Unwashed” blog. Here’s the digest of the articles that were published.
Visio stencils released but no news of Exchange 2010 SP2 RU5 or TechNet updates (November 29). Microsoft released a very useful update of the Visio stencils that many use to create Exchange-related documentation. The update incorporates new icons used with Exchange 2013, SharePoint 2013, and Lync 2013. On the downside, we’re still waiting to hear from Microsoft about how they have fixed the DAG bug that appeared in Exchange 2010 SP2 RU5 and whether they will change their current strategy of forcing Exchange 2013 content to be the default when you search TechNet for Exchange. As I write this update, there are 71 comments on the EHLO blog entry of 8 November that informed everyone about the change, pretty well all of which are negative. I can’t think of a similar change made by the Exchange team that has caused so many complaints recently and while I have some sympathy for the folks at Microsoft who took the decision because I’ve no doubt that it was taken with good motives at heart, it simply hasn’t worked and should be reversed. If you care about this issue, why not let Microsoft know by adding your comment to EHLO?
Exchange 2013 DAGs, Windows 2012, and the CNO (November 27). Exchange does an extremely good job of hiding the complexity that underpins Database Availability Groups but sometimes a change made elsewhere means that a crack appears. And so it is with Windows 2012, which isn’t as accommodating to applications that want to create computer objects in Active Directory as Windows 2008 is. But there’s an easy workaround, as long as you know about it.
Exchange 2013 and TMG explained (November 22). Sometimes it seems like we live in a crazy world. Why else would Microsoft publish an interesting and worthwhile blog describing how to configure Threat Management Gateway (TMG) to support publication of Exchange 2013 services some nine days before TMG was to be removed (it’s happened now) from the Microsoft price list? Of course, there’s a good reason. TMG is very popular in the Exchange world and it’s going to be supported until April 2015, so there’s lots of time to get good value from the excellent advice contained in the post.
Microsoft Office Filter Pack 2013 now available, but it’s not needed by Exchange 2013 (November 20). Strangely, very soon after Microsoft posted the Office 2013 filter pack (at this download point), the pack disappeared into Web limbo and hasn’t reappeared since. I assume that someone discovered something that wasn’t quite right that caused Microsoft to remove the download, but in any case it doesn’t matter very much because Exchange 2010 servers are quite happy to use the Office 2010 Filter Pack (SP1) and Exchange 2013 doesn’t need it at all. Why? Exchange 2013 uses the Search Foundation (FAST) instead of the older MSSearch component used in Exchange 2010 and Search Foundation has in-build indexing capability for all of the Office file formats plus PDF.
Two PR disasters for the Exchange team in a week. Not good (November 16). The PR disasters are the TechNet update and the DAG bug in Exchange 2010 SP2 RU5. What struck me is that these were easily avoided snafus and that they took the edge off the feeling of well-being generated by a highly successful Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) followed by a high-profile launch of Exchange 2013. It’s distressing that a quality problem was found so quickly in Exchange 2010 SP2 RU5 because there’s been other examples of poor quality control in other recent roll-up updates. I do hope that the Exchange team loses the habit of shooting themselves in the foot soon. Then again, these problems do give people like me something to write about.
Not a good week for Exchange Online (November 15). You might conclude from this digest that I spent November complaining about various events that happened in Redmond. It’s true that Microsoft provided lots of opportunity for complaint. In this case, some problems in Exchange Online (Office 365) caused poor service to users in the Americas. On the other hand, as an EMEA-based user of Office 365, I experienced perfect service during the month and have done so ever since I first signed up as a paying customer some 15 months ago. And as I point out, even with a couple of glitches in reliability, I have a very strong feeling that Office 365 delivers a far more robust and reliable service than many IT departments are capable of providing. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.
Exchange TechNet update unwelcome and unwanted (November 13). My original commentary on Microsoft’s decision to force-feed Exchange 2013 content to all and sundry. I thought it was a brain-dead decision then and I still do. Read this article to discover why.
Migrating an Exchange 2010 DAG to Exchange 2013 (November 8). Lots of companies run an Exchange 2010 DAG and will be looking forward to the prospect of migrating their servers to Exchange 2013. The good news is that the process is straightforward. But you have to create a new DAG built from Exchange 2013 servers and move mailboxes across. Not difficult, it just needs careful planning and execution.
Outlook’s missing picture compression feature (November 6). It might be more accurate to call this “Outlook’s obscured and hidden picture compression feature”. The article discusses a feature that I used a lot with Outlook 2003 to send compressed versions of photos. Given that digital photos are becoming larger and larger, it seems that the feature would be even more useful now than it was ten years ago, but I couldn’t find any trace of it in Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013, nor could any of the Exchange and Outlook engineers that I asked at MEC. As it turns out, a lingering trace of the feature (as it was) is still around, but its usefulness is much reduced because it’s so obscured.
Apple releases iOS 6.0.1 to fix Exchange meeting bug (November 2). ActiveSync is a very successful protocol because it is so easy for third party mobile device vendors to integrate ActiveSync into their own email clients and so be able to connect to Exchange. Unfortunately, the success of ActiveSync has been marred by some strange implementation details. Microsoft doesn’t oversee how the companies that license ActiveSync use it and the potential always exists that problems will be revealed when new versions of an ActiveSync client are released. And so it was with the Apple mail client in iOS 6 when the famous meeting hijack bug came to the fore. Things are apparently better in iOS 6.0.1. At least, that’s the word from Cupertino…
Hopefully there will be fewer PR disasters and similar issues to discuss in December. It would be nice to get through a month by being able to focus on technology for technology’s sake.
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